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In-depth reviews

Renault Clio - Engines, performance and drive

The Renault Clio is good fun to drive and rides well, but not especially quick

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£17,775 to £20,575
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Overall the Clio feels like a quality product on the road: polished, comfortable and, at higher speeds, as refined as some hatchbacks from the class above. But the Clio has also garnered a reputation for driving thrills over the years and it remains one of the better handling superminis on the market. 

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The steering is well weighted and direct, and there’s just a hint of body roll as you chuck the Clio into corners. It also manages to remain composed even on bumpy back roads, thanks to the Clio’s forgiving ride. The heavily bolstered sports seats in top-spec Esprit Alpine models also stop you sloshing around the cabin when changing direction quickly, although wider individuals may find them a little snug. 

The high-mounted six-speed manual gear lever in the pure-petrol model works well ergonomically but doesn’t have the most engaging gear change action. Changing gear is a more pleasurable experience in a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, but there’s nothing especially terrible about the Clio’s manual ‘box.

The Clio’s hybrid powertrain, meanwhile, always starts off running in electric mode, so you simply zip away from a standstill. You have to be incredibly delicate with the throttle if you don’t want to wake the E-Tech’s petrol engine, otherwise it’ll wake from its slumber once you go beyond 20mph. The transition is smooth enough in the default ‘My Sense’ drive mode, but if you switch to ‘Sport’ then the step-change is more noticeable.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed 

The regular Clio is powered by a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 89bhp and 160Nm of torque, all of which is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. 0-62mph takes a rather lethargic 12.2 seconds, while the TCe 90’s top speed stands at 112mph. 

Meanwhile the Clio E-Tech uses a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, although only one helps to drive the wheels, with the second smaller motor used to fire up the engine and make gear shift feel smoother. Total power output for the full-hybrid setup is rated at 143bhp, and there’s up to 205Nm of torque at your disposal when you’re running on the electric motor.

Renault says the hybrid Clio will sprint from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds, which sounds decent, but the gearbox can become a little flustered deciding which gear to select and when to change up or kick down. Power delivery is linear during hard acceleration, but once again, the transmission takes its sweet time deciding when it’s going to change gear and there are no paddles on the steering wheel, or any other way to force it to shift up. Top speed for the Clio E-Tech also stands at 112mph.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 SCe 75 Play 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £15,020

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 E-TECH Hybrid 140 Play 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £19,770

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0 TCe 100 Play 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £17,180
News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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